Three easy offline activities to keep the kids distracted this Thanksgiving

by Anna Hughes on 07/11/2018
Thanksgiving, in an ideal world, is a valuable time to be with our families. To laugh, to embrace one another, to joyfully reminisce about the good old days. To make new memories and enjoy a day full of meaningful conversations with loved ones. This scenario is of course completely fictional for most. Anyone with children who claims their Thanksgiving was in any way straightforward or dreamlike, is probably bending the truth quite significantly. Especially if they were the ones hosting the festivities.

There’s the late-night food prep, the cleaning and decorating, the mental preparation for pending potential or inevitable family dramas. Not to mention the daily challenges (to put it politely) set mostly by the smallest person/people who share your home.

It is definitely tempting to give the kids some bonus screen time on their tablet or phone just to keep them out of the way while we dress and stuff the turkey, set tables, quietly glug eggnog etc. With the parental controls Screen Time provides, this is easy to do without the usual fear of overindulgence/online dangers/switch-off meltdowns.

And that’s fine.

Or, rather than lose our children to their devices while we do all of the work, we could always find ways to get them involved with the preparations (bear with us here).

The tasks you set needn’t be anything complicated. Baking something simple or making table decorations for example not only gets them away from their screens, it will also get them using and developing their creative skills, math skills, science, reading, time telling…the list goes on.

Who knows, you might even bond a bit too.

Then once your house is filled with the sweet smells of pumpkin pie and your table is scattered with lovingly crafted decorations, you could treat your offspring to some bonus time on their device as a ‘well done for being so helpful’ reward. Which also means more ‘you’ time later on. Everyone wins 😉

We’ve scoured the pages of Pinterest to find the best Thanksgiving recipes and crafts for you to try with your kids. Not only that, but we at Screen Time Labs have MADE each one to ensure they are as quick and as easy as promised (kids attention spans vs parents patience levels were taken very seriously during the testing period).

 

Evidence is posted below in our quick video tutorials, each lasting less than 60 seconds.

We’d love to see your creations. Feel free to share on here or on our Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter feeds using #kidsunplugged.

Successful AND unsuccessful attempts are all welcome! Good luck 🙂

Mini Pumpkin Pies (Thank you @crafty_morning)

Turkey Cupcakes (Thanks @MarthaStewart)

Turkey Paper Bag Puppets (Thanks @1littleproject!)

 

 

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Nail Screen Free Week with the Family Screen Time Pact

by Anna Hughes on 30/04/2018
Screen Free Week is great in theory, but asking kids to switch off their devices can be painful. Enter, the Family Screen Time Pact!

The Family Screen Time Pact

“But why?” – sound familiar? It’s great to have inquisitive kids, but those two words must pass our younglings lips more than any other.

We get constant feedback from parents about how beneficial the screen time app has been to their children and family as a whole. These compliments often come with: “After the initial arguments”.

So we are here to help. We have developed a fun way to help you, the parent, introduce Screen Time to the family. It comes in the form of ‘Our Family Screen Time Pact’ – a simple contract between parent and child on the use of mobile devices to help your children understand that small but complicated word – Why?

But be warned, it’s a two way street, what you ask your kids to do, you too need to adhere to.

It’s designed to be printed and stuck to the fridge, this way it will stay present as a reminder to all, during Screen Free Week and beyond. We’ll leave the penalty for breaking the pact up to you… and your kids!

Download the Family Screen Time Pact!

 

Or if you want to give Screen Time, Try it for FREE! 

Screen Free Week runs from April 30 to May 6 2018. Find out more here

 

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Calling all Screen Time users… We have exciting news…

by Anna Hughes on 16/03/2017
...Our Web History Monitoring function just had a makeover. If you are Screen Time subscriber and your child has Android Marshmallow or Nougat on their device, keeping your kids safe online just got a whole lot easier.

 

…Our Web History Monitoring function just had a makeover.

If you are Screen Time subscriber and your child has Android Marshmallow or Nougat on their device, keeping your kids safe online just got a whole lot easier.

Once you’ve gone through the simple setup process, select ‘Web History’ from the main menu. There you will find a list of all of the sites that your child has visited during their ‘Play’ time.

Your screen will look a bit like this:

So at a glance it will become immediately obvious if your child has been on a site you don’t recognise. At which point you can check the site in question for any content you don’t feel is suitable.

This list will also reveal what your child has been searching for (if they have searched within a browser app). 

OK so your children might feel like they are being snooped on. But we’re not about snooping. We’re about good, honest parenting.

We designed Screen Time, our parental control app, with our kids best interests in mind. Everything from improving their time management skills to guiding them towards a healthy online/offline balance.

Did you know, according to a recent survey conducted for the Children’s Commissioner by Mumsnet, 73% of parents are concerned about their children accessing inappropriate material online?

There are already parental controls set up on some devices to help block inappropriate content, as well as search engine filters such as Google’s SafeSearch. However these aren’t 100% accurate. Which, for us, means they aren’t good enough on their own.

Our Web History monitoring feature adds extra reassurance that your child is surfing safe.

We know this feature is something our Android Marshmallow and Nougat users have been requesting for a while now and we always aim to please. So if you’re planning on giving it a try, do let us know how you get on either via the comments below or our Social Media channels. We’re always on hand to help too so if you have any questions, just ask.

We already have some happy customers 🙂

“Beautifully done. You guys rock!!!”

“Nice! Thanks for this update. Exactly what I’ve been waiting for.”

“Working flawlessly, including searches and cards in Google now, such as articles.”

“Fantastic!”

Our lovely Screen Time subscribers, March 2017

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How to stop nagging your children

by Anna Hughes on 17/02/2017
We are loving Miriam’s review of our app this week. No parent wants to be the Bad Cop, right?! “This is really easy to use. It's making a huge difference in the amount I have to nag. I'm now 100 percent consistent because I don't have to remember to follow through. It's like an automated bad cop. I like being the good cop.”  Miriam, Feb 2017

 

If we had a dollar for every parent who told us that our app has helped put a stop to nagging in their house, we’d… be heading out for a much better than normal lunch, we can tell you.
And Miriam has an excellent point about the parent’s struggle to remain consistent with promises, threats, rewards and punishments when it comes to the kids.

We can help with that. Just set the Daily Time Limit on your child’s device, and let the Screen Time app take the blame at Switch Off time.

Then all that’s left for you to do is to sit back and enjoy your new harmonious (or at least, noticeably less shouty) household.

Try it now for FREE if you haven’t already.

Do you have any other good nagging prevention strategies you’d like to share?

Tell us all in the comments below! We’d love to hear from you 🙂

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8 ways to get your kids off the couch during The Big Game

by Anna Hughes on 02/02/2017
We at Screen Time are big believers in having a healthy online/offline balance. Which is why we made our app - to help parents to have more control over the amount of time their kids spend on their devices. The Big Game is fast approaching, which means a whole lot of screen watching is in store - roughly 4 hours of it depending on how keen a fan the viewer is.

 

That’s a lot of time spent on the couch. And with 22 people (or 23 if you include Lady Gaga) running around and working up a sweat on said screen, there’s some inspiration right there to follow suit and burn off some energy.

Or at least the kids can while you eat chips and point.

We’re not about to suggest switching off the TV during such a momentous occasion. There’s no need for such extremes when there are commercial breaks to be taken advantage of.

In the time it takes to see various individuals joyfully glug a fizzy drink, an 11 year old could do 20 push ups. Or master the art of ‘Ball Spinning On The Finger’. Or jump up and down on the spot if they’re a bit younger.

In doing so, the child in question will burn off energy, increase levels of happy hormone, Serotonin, and decrease chance of door slamming. At the same time, the parent can be relieved of any guilt they may have experienced in relation to 4 hour TV-athon. Everyone’s a winner.

As an incentive, perhaps the kids could be rewarded with some cheeky Bonus Time on their device using our app

We here at Screen Time HQ like to practice what we preach. So, in the name of helping others achieve that online/offline balance, we bring you our very own…Screen Time Commercial Break Challenge!

Watch as Screen Time team members, Polly, Anna, Nick and Neil demonstrate their ball skills attempts, push ups and ‘going up and down stairs’ techniques, all in the comfort of our Bristol office.

(Please be assured that no one was harmed during the making of this video. Apart from maybe Neil, during the Push Up Challenge. Sorry Neil).

Disclaimer: Take care doing these exercises. We are Developers/Designers/Customer Supporters. We are definitely not Chuck Norris.

The Screen Time Commercial Break Challenge

 

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New Year’s resolutions and how to keep them, using the Screen Time app

by Anna Hughes on 06/01/2017
Happy New year from Screen Time! (We’re not sure when you’re supposed to stop saying that either). At Screen Time HQ, we’ve been discussing our New Year’s resolutions. The standard ones have inevitably been thrown in (join a gym, eat more healthily, slightly reduce Prosecco consumption), as well as a couple of less traditional ones involving underpants (see graph for details).

 

But how likely is it that we will all stick to our resolutions?

A classic one for many is of course to spend more quality time with the family. One rather large obstacle that can get in the way of this great intention however, is the kids smartphone or tablet.

If it’s a choice between posting selfies on Snapchat/playing Minecraft, or, say, a family bike ride, chances are you’ll not be getting the bikes out of the garage without a fight.

Luckily, as all Screen Time users know, our app can make this New Year’s resolution a lot more achievable and a lot less painful.

 

“It takes the fight out of managing screen time”  

Aleah LaFrancis. Screen Time user

 

Simply pause their device and you are free to cycle off into the sunset with your offspring in tow.

Or if the kids need a bit of extra convincing, you could try introducing some ‘family’ related tasks that will earn them extra time on their device. For example, a family hike could earn child half an hour bonus time on their tablet. Or a family game of cards could earn them an extra 20 minutes on their smartphone. Or whatever you decide. You control everything – which is the beauty of the app.

Similarly, if 2017 for you means getting fit or simply allowing yourself some more ‘you’ time, send your loved ones a Play. They get some extra time online and you get a six pack. Everyone’s happy.

We’d love to hear about your New Year’s resolutions. Please share in the comments below 🙂

 

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10 ways to not lose your kids this Christmas

by Anna Hughes on 01/12/2016
Smartphones and tablets are set to be a popular present for kids this Christmas. We already have an app to help prevent us from losing ours to their devices. Here are ten ways to not lose them at the shops.

With the Christmas festivities fast approaching, parents will be all consumed by the daunting task of making sure everyone is happy on the big day. Children, big and small, are at bursting point as they excitedly ponder what has been left for them under the tree. The challenge for parents at this time of year (as if there weren’t enough already), is to orchestrate the balance between what their kids want, and what their kids actually need.

In a recent survey, 20% of parents intend to buy their children a new device this Christmas. So tweens and teens across the country will soon be gleefully unwrapping smartphones and tablets.

And if they’re not careful, that’ll be the last they see of our beloved offspring as they disappear behind their screens. The Christmas sweater that was lovingly purchased by a relative remains wrapped and forgotten beneath the tree. The annual game of Charades is cancelled due to a shortage of contenders.

But fear not!

The Screen Time app can help parents manage the amount of time their kids spend on their devices, so you still get to enjoy those precious family moments.

One thing our app can’t do however is prevent our kids from getting lost in other ways. We’d love to introduce a button for this but until we do, here are a few useful pointers to help you hang onto your kids when out doing your Christmas shopping:

 

1. Write your phone number on your child’s arm. Even if they have memorised it with impressive accuracy, they might not remember it at times of need.

 2. Take a picture of all offspring before you leave the house. Handy for descriptive purposes in the event of misplacing your child. Memory can be uncooperative during such times.

 3. Agree on a meeting place for everyone to wait at if lost.

 4. Point out who it’s okay to go to for help. For example a police officer, a member of staff, a mom with her children.

 5. Dress your child in bright clothes so you can spot them from a distance.

take-a-photo                     phone-umber-on-hand              stay-close

And if you want to go that extra mile:

 6. Give your child several helium balloons to hold. Ideally so they float above the crowd for easy identification.

 7. Dress all children in high vis vests. (Additional hat with large flashing light attachment optional).

8. Do the Conga at all times, ensuring all family members participate for the duration of your public outing.

9. Use the power of incentivisation to keep your children close. This can be achieved by attaching a smartphone to your belt or alternatively, a fishing rod. See illustration above for guidance.

10. Leave the kids at home. They’d probably prefer it there anyway. Which also allows for ample shopping time on your own terms 🙂

leave-at-home

 

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Three easy Thanksgiving activities to lure your kids away from their devices

by Anna Hughes on 24/11/2016
Thanksgiving, in an ideal world, is a valuable time to be with our families. To laugh, to embrace one another, to joyfully reminisce about the good old days. To make new memories and enjoy a day full of meaningful conversations with loved ones. This scenario is of course completely fictional for most. Anyone with children who claims their Thanksgiving was in any way straightforward or dreamlike, is probably bending the truth quite significantly. Especially if they were the ones hosting the festivities.

There’s the late-night food prep, the cleaning and decorating, the mental preparation for pending potential or inevitable family dramas. Not to mention the daily challenges (to put it politely) set mostly by the smallest person/people who share your home.

It is definitely tempting to give the kids some bonus time on their tablet or phone just to keep them out of the way while we dress and stuff the turkey, set tables, quietly glug eggnog etc.

And that’s fine.

Or, rather than lose our children to their devices while we do all of the work, we could always find ways to get them involved with the preparations (bear with us here).

The tasks you set needn’t be anything complicated. Baking something simple or making table decorations for example not only gets them away from their screens, it will also get them using and developing their creative skills, math skills, science, reading, time telling…the list goes on.

xmas-blog-icon-list

Who knows, you might even bond a bit too.

Then once your house is filled with the sweet smells of pumpkin pie and your table is scattered with lovingly crafted decorations, you could treat your offspring to some bonus time on their device as a ‘well done for being so helpful’ reward. Which also means more ‘you’ time later on. Everyone wins 😉

We’ve scoured the pages of Pinterest to find the best Thanksgiving recipes and crafts for you to try with your kids. Not only that, but we at Screen Time Labs have MADE each one to ensure they are as quick and as easy as promised (kids attention spans vs parents patience levels were taken very seriously during the testing period).

Evidence is posted below in our quick video tutorials, each lasting less than 60 seconds.

We’d love to see your creations. Feel free to share on here or on our Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter feeds using #kidsunplugged.

Successful AND unsuccessful attempts are all welcome! Good luck 🙂

Mini Pumpkin Pies

Turkey Cupcakes

Turkey Paper Bag Puppets

 

 

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Struggled to introduce Screen Time to your kids? Check out the Family Screen Time Pact

by Nick Merry on 28/10/2016
The Family Screen Time Pact. “But why?” – sound familiar? It's great to have inquisitive kids, but those two words must pass our younglings lips more than any other.

The Family Screen Time Pact

 

We get constant feedback from parents about how beneficial the screen time app has been to their children and family as a whole. These compliments often come with: “After the initial arguments”.

So we are here to help. We have developed a fun way to help you, the parent, introduce Screen Time to the family. It comes in the form of ‘Our Family Screen Time Pact’ – a simple contract between parent and child on the use of mobile devices to help your children understand that small but complicated word – Why?

But be warned, it’s a two way street, what you ask your kids to do, you too need to adhere to.

It’s designed to be printed and stuck to the fridge, this way it will stay present as a reminder to all. We’ll leave the penalty for breaking the pact up to you… and your kids!

Download the Family Screen Time Pact

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A little on the team at Screen Time Labs

by Nick Merry on 28/10/2016
It is hard to pick up a newspaper today without reading an article on the negative impacts too much screen time can have on our children. From children getting less out door fresh air than convicts to the amount of times teens check their social media during the night (reportedly about 10 times a night).

We have parents who have faced violent outbursts for closing down a device and teachers reporting kids falling asleep in class due to overtiredness (3am minecraft perhaps).

A few of the readily available Screen Time Labs Team

We recognise the need for parental control of kids mobile devices, and as our customer base has grown, we too have grown. The Screen Time Labs team is made up of parents fighting the very same battles as you. We are now a team of 15 and expecting to double that in the next 12 months.

So you can be safe in the knowledge that your concerns are our concerns and with our growing team, we’ll be working doubly hard to be the parental helping hand that enables your kids to get a happy balance between time spent with their devices and time discovering what the rest of life has to offer.

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